Wednesday, May 25, 2005

It's Not Enough

NOTE: The following is not meant in any way, shape or form to endorse substance abuse as a means to solving anything. Altering one's mind temporarily, however, is heartily encouraged.

Did you ever feel like what the world gave you was not enough? That no matter how hard you tried, how you struggled and tried to accept the hand you were dealt, the gifts that you have been given, that it was never going to be good enough for you?

Johnny Thunders did. Take a gander at L.A.M.F., the great Heartbreakers album, track number five. Johnny just got it, he understood. Here was a guy who was handed athletic prowess and never pursued it, handed good looks and destroyed them, handed musical talent and pissed it away. He wanted something more, something that was just down the road, around the corner, out of reach. And sadly, he could never quite get there, even clean and sober.

Johnny was not the only one to feel this way. Check out Steve Earle's "I Ain't Ever Satisfied." Coming from someone with his intellectual and musical gifts, with his big heart, that's saying something. Check out "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" by U2. Ditto on Bono. Both of these men have restless spirits, have sensitive natures and questioning minds, and they can't take the way things are. So both of them continue to wrestle with their inner demons, often turning to mind-altering substances to numb the pain. They are engaged in a lifelong inner struggle, and sometimes the demons win. And we don't question this struggle, we welcome it, because out of this struggle comes great art.

So why do people constantly tell us that we should accept what the world hands us no questions asked? That we should be happy with what we have, with the way things are? That we should not try to make the world a better place, shouldn't try to make of things what we can instead of letting events and people shape us? That we should just settle? That if we are "good," that somehow we will get our share in life, that good things will come to us. That we should not be angry at the way things are, that we not should "push the envelope" when we can--should not question and challenge, should go quietly into that good night.

I, for one, am not willing to accept the status quo. For that I have been called hostile, angry, difficult, bitter, an entire host of pejoratives. But I will not compromise, I will not change. Because like Johnny, like Steve, like Bono, I will most likely never be completely at peace. Nor is that really where I want to be. I want to be challenged, I want to be provoked, I want to be stimulated, I want to be alive. Because it can all be taken away from you in a heartbeat.

"I would rather have thirty minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special."
-----Shelby Eatenton in Steel Magnolias

Say what you will about the source, the idea rocks. And for believing it I will never apologize.

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